Static Classes and Singletons
The classes of ABAP Objects support two types of components:
- Instance components (instance attributes, instance events and instance methods). You can only address the instance components of a class using instances of the class (objects).
- Static components (static attributes, static events and static methods). The static components of a class can be addressed using an object and also using the name of the class. This means they can be used independently of a class instance.
A class that only contains static components and no instance components is referred to as a static class. A global static class is loaded once with its class pool into the current
Like every ABAP program, it cannot be explicitly deleted from the session. The static methods (declared using
CLASS-METHODS) of a class cannot be redefined in subclasses.
A singleton is a design pattern where the class assumes the responsibility of object generation. The class ensures that only one object exists for every internal session that is made available to users.
Do not use static classes
Use objects instead of static classes. If you do not want multiple instantiation, you can use singletons.
If no real object-oriented design exists that would use the multiple instantiation of classes, for example,
this often results in the generation of classes that only contain static methods (declared using
ABAP Objects are
used. These methods are then used as simple procedures. However, even if multiple instantiation is not
explicitly required, object generation is preferable to the use of static classes, for the reasons listed below. You can use the singleton design pattern to prevent multiple instantiation:
- Explicit object generation is essential for object-oriented programming. Static classes, however, are implicitly loaded the first time they are used, and the corresponding static constructor — if available — is executed. They are persisted in the memory for as long as the current internal session exists. Therefore, if you use static classes, you cannot actually control the time of initialization. You have no way of releasing the memory occupied by the attributes, as soon as the class function is no longer required.
- Another important argument against the use of static classes is the limited functionality of the static constructor, in comparison to an instance constructor. A static constructor has no parameter interface and cannot propagate any exceptions. This is why you cannot always respond appropriately to an error situation in the static constructor, which can cause a runtime error in extreme cases. However, the exceptions of an instance constructor can be handled.
- By using static classes, you restrict your polymorphism options, which are actually provided by object-oriented programming. On the one hand, you cannot redefine static methods. On the other hand, access is not possible using reference variables (the other “pillar” of polymorphism). However, it is worth keeping the option of polymorphism open:
- Even if you initially do not plan to overwrite the behavior of a method later on using inheritance or redefinition, this is a request that frequently arises in the course of the further development.
- When implementing unit tests with ABAP Unit, redefining the behavior of certain methods, to resolve problematic dependencies, is often unavoidable.
To keep the option of redefinition open, you should always use instance methods instead of static methods.
You can express the retrieval of a singleton object and the subsequent call of an instance method, by using the very compact form of a chained method call:
cl_singleton=>get_instance( )->do_something( ).
Since an additional object reference variable and an additional factory call are omitted, there are no aesthetic disadvantages related to the use of a singleton design pattern.
Classes that only cover trivial functionality can still be implemented as static classes. Here you must accurately assess whether one of the previously mentioned aspects has any effect. The need for a class constructor can be an indicator here. Once a static class requires a nontrivial class constructor to provide the required functionality, you should use objects instead.
The following source code shows a static class with purely static methods and how one of these methods is used. In general, it is not immediately obvious from the source code whether the method call also calls the static constructor or whether this has already happened earlier (following a simple attribute access, for example).
The following source code shows an implementation of the singleton design pattern. A static method allows access to the only object of the class.
RETURNING VALUE(r_instance) TYPE REF TO singleton_class
CLASS-DATA instance TYPE REF TO singleton_class.
IF instance IS NOT BOUND.
CREATE OBJECT instance.
r_instance = instance.
singleton_class=>get_instance( )->meth1( ).
In the above example, the
get_instance method is used to return the object reference to the object created with the first call. Therefore, this example would appear to violate the rule
modularize rather than atomize.
This rule states that no method should be created in ABAP that only returns the value of an attribute.
However, this objection is not justified here, because the main task of the
method is to enable the object user to control the time of object creation. This is necessary to enable the user to respond (in the usual way) to any exceptional situation during the object creation process.
In special cases, where object creation is performed without parameters and is always successful, you
can omit the
get_instance method and publish the object reference using a
READ-ONLY attribute. In this case, the object is created within the static
constructor. Therefore, this approach is still afflicted with some of the problems of static classes described in other sections.